Welcome to Prague
At CET, our goal is to make study abroad accessible for all. We believe that learning happens best when your class reflects the world around us—complex and diverse. So we work hard to create and maintain programs that support students of all races, religions, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. No matter where you are coming from, we want you to have a successful study abroad experience.
CET makes every effort to offer accommodations comparable to those of your home institution. Disclosing early helps us to make proper preparations and work with you to determine if a program will be a good fit. We recommend that you use the following details to inform your decisions and conversations with your Student Services Coordinator.
Race & Ethnicity
The Czech Republic is not as ethnically diverse as other European nations, though there are some minority groups (primarily Roma and Vietnamese communities). As a result, students may hear racially insensitive comments or experience other occurrences of casual racism in their daily lives— whether that’s in the classroom, at internship placement sites, or just around the city. Black students in particular may experience more staring and other uncomfortable situations, as has been previously reported to staff. While Prague is a more open and progressive city relative to Eastern Europe, the local language and culture of the Czech Republic is not equipped with the same levels of political correctness that students may be accustomed to in the US. As such, students may find local attitudes to be more brusque, and they may be on the receiving end of blunt questions or remarks.
Generally speaking, the atmosphere toward LGBTQ issues and individuals in Prague is positive and the Czech Republic is considered to be the most open among Eastern European countries. It is unlikely that students will encounter direct issues regarding LGBTQ identities, as many Czech people tend to view this as a deeply personal topic. Many local activists view the country’s relative tolerance as more indifferent rather than born of malice, which can be surprising for American students to experience. Registered partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal for over a decade in the Czech Republic, and anti-discrimination laws are long established for protections regarding employment, education, housing, and access to goods and services. Prague boasts many supportive events and communities that are open to all, including the annual Prague Pride Parade, the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, and the Queer Eye Festival.
The local cultural climate towards gender norms and roles is fairly traditional and students may encounter attitudes that reflect this. However, there are increasingly more local groups and organizations that work in the field of gender equality.
The local culture is in the earlier stages of awareness and acceptance towards gender diversity, but it is not yet on par with what students may be accustomed to at home. Linguistically, students that identify outside of the gender binary may find the Czech language slightly challenging due to its gendered pronouns. However, Prague is home to many annual events that promote empowerment, social justice, and social changes to support gender diverse communities.
The Czech Republic is largely atheistic, but Christianity (Catholicism, specifically) is the dominant religious practice. There are also Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as other faiths and places of worship. Due to the region’s refugee crisis, there has been some negative response toward Islam—though this is usually met with opposition as well. Students who wish to practice their religion while in Prague should discuss the matter with staff during orientation.
Cost of Living
Relative to the US and other countries in Europe, the cost of living in Prague is considerably more affordable. An average meal typically costs below 10 USD. Past students have mentioned that establishing and adhering to a budget at the beginning of the term was a strategy that helped manage any financial stress. Check out a budget sheet to get an idea of what life in Prague might look like financially.
ACCESS in ACADEMICS
Semester students typically attend classes for 3 to 5 hours a day, with a minimum of 1.5 hrs/day and a maximum of 8 hrs/day. On average, classes have between 7 and 12 students.
Services available for students with documented need: Low-distraction test environment; extra time on exams; modified deadlines and seating; note-taker; exam reader; audio recordings of lectures; a computer to take exams; syllabi/readings/assignments in advance; sighted companion.
Classes are held at the CET Center in the heart of Prague, conveniently located by public transportation. It has multiple floors, elevator access, and a bathroom (not accessible by wheelchair). Public transport near the CET Center also has options for wheelchairs.
CET occasionally plans mandatory academic activities and optional trips to nearby sites and other cities after class and on weekends. Excursions may involve urban walking, rural hiking, use of public transportation, and/or going up and down stairs.
Itinerary modifications and accommodations can be made for students with documented need. Transportation can be arranged as necessary, and excused absences are provided for mandatory excursions that are inaccessible due to a disability.
ACCESS IN HOUSING
Your Home Abroad
Apartments differ in layout and location but are a 20 to 30 minute commute to the CET Center, where classes are held. Depending on an apartment’s location, students might commute by foot, public transit, or a combination of the two. A public transit pass is included with the program fee and can be used freely throughout a student’s term in Prague.
Housing in a building with an elevator and a wheelchair accessible bathroom may be possible if requested far in advance.
Students are typically assigned to apartments according to their housing preference form. Apartment configurations vary but can include mix-gender and same-gender setups. The form also includes questions to help accommodate the needs of gender diverse students.
Rooms are typically shared, but a single room in a shared apartment, with a private shower or toilet, may be available for students with documented need if requested in advance.
Most public transportation in Prague has a system in place for wheelchair accessibility, and train stations typically have elevators. Barrier-free vehicles and dedicated areas are marked with a pictogram. Students with mobility issues may find navigating the streets of Prague 1 to be a little difficult due to cobblestones. Orientation elements like tactile paving and acoustic beacons are often found around the city.
Health & Diet
Health & Medicine
During orientation, on-site staff provide students with basic information and recommendations for seeing a doctor and buying medicine. There are some prescription medications that are illegal in the Czech Republic—students should do their research beforehand and ensure they bring their prescription and a doctor’s note. Students should also prepare the necessary amount of medications if in-country refills won’t be possible, as shipping medication abroad is not permitted.
Keeping Fit in Prague
There are many private gyms that students can join with varying fees (YMCA is the most affordable option), as well as public clubs for swimming and other sports. Past students have joined swim teams and other sports during their stay in Prague.
Managing Mental Health
There is an English-language psychology/psychiatry practice in Prague. Details can be provided upon request.
Please note that the Czech Republic has very strict medical privacy laws. Should a student enter a Czech hospital with a serious issue, CET staff would be unable to obtain information as that right is reserved for legal relatives.
Many dietary restrictions are easy to maintain in Prague. Halal, kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan options are readily available. By law, all menus are required to list food allergens. The welcome packet includes a bilingual card listing basic vocabulary and sentences related to dietary restrictions.
Resources from Alumni
These are alumni-written essays that reflect upon how their own identity affected their time abroad (both good and bad) and what it was like to navigate another culture in their position. We encourage you to read these to better understand what studying abroad in the Czech Republic could be like for you or your future peers.
- Connecting in Prague
by Stephanie Valdivia, FAMU Film Production | Fall 2017
- Race in Prague
by Anonymous Contributor, FAMU Film Production | Fall 2018
- Study Abroad While Black: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
by Robert Cain, CET Photography at FAMU | Fall 2019
For “Students studying abroad for the first time and Black American students”
In final evaluations, we ask students how their identities affected their experience abroad. The following are a few select quotes from recent program evaluations to help you understand what life in Prague may be like for you or your future peers.
TALK TO ALUMNI
Chat with alumni about their experiences abroad. Once you start an application, your online CET account will give you access to the following resources:
- Alumni Support List: A directory of students who have volunteered to chat about their experiences abroad in Prague.
- Identity Abroad Support Network: A group of students who have volunteered to discuss their identity-related experiences in Prague. This is a volunteer-based program that started in 2019. Volunteers can also opt to have their contact information kept privately by CET staff and only shared when certain lived experiences are asked about.
Don’t see anyone listed for the Identity Abroad Support Network? Call CET for more information and resources. Consider joining after your program to support other minority students abroad.